I am of the personal view that there is no need for a MP to resign because of extramarital affairs, as long as the affair did not unduly enrich either party in the relationship, or adversely affected the MP’s ability to do his job. I do not see the need for MPs to be squeaky clean. MPs are ultimately human, and all that matters to me is that he does his job properly. Yes, he may not be the best example to your kids, but that isn’t really what we appoint a politician for anyway. A politician should be appointed to make our lives better.
By this standard, neither Yaw Shin Leong nor Michael Palmer should be required to resign because of a extramarital affair alone. (This assumes Palmer did not breach the conditions I’ve mentioned, which should be investigated). But YSL ultimately deserved to get fired because of the way he reacted to the allegations of an affair. By leaving the country and failing to respond properly to the accusations, he has proven that he is ultimately an untrustworthy man who refuses to be held accountable to his actions. This is especially fatal when the WP campaigned on a platform of transparency and accountability in GE2011.
Nevertheless, Singapore is still a somewhat conservative society. Having a MP with a known history of an affair is still too embarrassing for the political party. Until the day society changes its collective mindset, a MP having an affair would be political suicide.
The PAP’s and WP’s handling of these affairs also speaks volumes. PAP had decisively reacted to Palmer’s disclosure within 4 days (which included the handover of MP duties to other PAP members). In contrast, WP denied all allegations, refused to state publicly that they were investigating the matter, and only fired YSL after a couple of weeks had passed. This speaks volumes about either party’s leadership strength and decisiveness, and only demonstrates that the PAP is still suited at making the tough decisions when running the country compared to the WP, at least for now.
A by-election of Punggol East SMC is probably on the cards. Let’s hope the same disappointing mistakes made in the Hougang by-election do not repeat themselves. Such events make for good entertainment. but we really do not need our politicians to make clowns of themselves.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch the comments by the alternative media and netizens. I bet there are a whole bunch of hypocritical anti-establishment clowns who defended YSL during his saga but are now bashing PAP for the same sin.